Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The answer to greed? Socialism

Barry Grey (WSWS) notes:

Last month, the Council of Economic Advisers, an agency of the Trump White House, released an extraordinary report titled “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism.” The report begins with the statement: “Coincident with the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth, socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse. Detailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the younger electorate.”
The very fact that the US government officially acknowledges a growth of popular support for socialism, particularly among the nation’s youth, testifies to vast changes taking place in the political consciousness of the working class and the terror this is striking within the ruling elite. America is, after all, a country where anti-communism was for the greater part of a century a state-sponsored secular religion. No ruling class has so ruthlessly sought to exclude socialist politics from political discourse as the American ruling class.
The 70-page document is itself an inane right-wing screed. It seeks to discredit socialism by identifying it with capitalist countries such as Venezuela that have expanded state ownership of parts of the economy while protecting private ownership of the banks, and, with the post-2008 collapse of oil and other commodity prices, increasingly attacked the living standards of the working class.
It identifies socialism with proposals for mild social reform such as “Medicare for all,” raised and increasingly abandoned by a section of the Democratic Party. It cites Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher to promote the virtues of “economic freedom,” i.e., the unrestrained operation of the capitalist market, and to denounce all social reforms, business regulations, tax increases or anything else that impinges on the oligarchy’s self-enrichment.
The report’s arguments and themes find expression in the fascistic campaign speeches of Donald Trump, who routinely and absurdly attacks the Democrats as socialists and accuses them of seeking to turn America into another “socialist” Venezuela.
What has prompted this effort to blackguard socialism?

Because we live in an age of greed.

Grasp that Barbra Streisand thinks she's a voice for the people.  She's a fat pig who gets fatter every day -- I'm talking her wallet.  She doesn't struggle and she doesn't know what it's like to.

It's like Kat said in "Kat's Korner: Barbra Streisand, the Ethel Merman of the 21st century:"

As she merges it, at 1:40 in, with "What A Wonderful World," I thought she'd finally done something smart by avoiding what, for her, would be the most laughable part of the song.  But, nope, she may sing about better angels on this album but there were none present to advise her -- which is how she ends up, later in the medley, launching into the verse that Barbra Streisand should never, ever record:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine no possessions?

No, Barbra, I wonder if you can.

Exactly.  Why is this woman treated as worth listening to?

She's desperately out of touch.

And she's not the only one.

Our former presidents are selling out like crazy to earn billions.

We're establishing a class and caste system.

There is greed and corruption every where.

And the people in need -- in one of the world's richest nations -- continue to do without.

Oh, we spent too much money!  We have to cut back!  I know, let's cut Medicaid or student lunches!

Over and over, that's what it is.  It's not, "Cut that defense spending!"

That's what it should be.  But it never is.  The government is not meeting the needs of the citizen.  We're living in another Gilded Age.  The government should be very worried about Socialism.  They can try some reforms -- like with FDR -- or they can accept that we will switch to Socialism.

Socialism would be a much more compassionate system than what we have now.

And shame on Barack Obama and anyone else whoring for millions -- using the office we are supposed to vest our faith and trust in to whore for money.  Yes, Bill Clinton does it too and has done it.  But that only means Barack should have known better.  Bill is repulsive.  Barack will become the same thing if he doesn't take a hard look at himself.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:

Tuesday, November 6, 2018.  Iraq still doesn't have a Minister of Defense or a Minister of Interior, let's not pretend that's not a big deal.

Iraq still does not have a full cabinet.  Adel Abdul al-Mahdi was moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister without meeting the sole provision required: Form a government.  That is a full cabinet.  In fairness to al-Mahdi, this provision has been waived for the previous prime ministers as well.  But the reality is that he has sent a message, from the start of his term, that the rules don't apply.  He currently has 14 Cabinet ministers which means eight posts are empty.

TRT: How much longer can they delay choosing these ministers and how detrimental is it for the country?

Douglas A. Ollivant:  Actually, they can delay a long time.  It's important to remember that in Nouri al-Maliki's second term as the prime minister -- in 2010 to 2014 -- he never appointed a minister of defense or interior.  He had acting minister that he installed without parliamentary approval that never had full powers. So this is not a crisis.  They have a government.  There are a couple of ministers that they disagree on -- some are just resume problems as you alluded to, too many ties to the former regime, so they'll make substitutions there.  The real fights are for defense and interior.

Background, Ollivant is considered an 'expert' on Iraq by those who need to bring on non-Iraqis because, heaven forbid, even all this time later, an Iraqi analyst might speak about Iraq.  Ollivant is part of the failed COIN strategy -- counter-intelligence.  It did not win hearts and minds nor, in fact, did it win battlefields.  Paying off Iraqis to stop attacking US installations and American troops was far more effective than COIN ever was.  Dropping back to the April 8, 2008 snapshot:

Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road.  First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War.  They didn't.  In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September.  When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did. 

The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly.  (He did so at least 16 times before he was escorted out).  The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up.  In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.  These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts."  Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up. 

How much lunch money is the US forking over?  Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars).  By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month.  $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".  Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies.  What a proud  moment for the country.

Now back to David.

Douglas A. Ollivant:  Actually, they can delay a long time.  It's important to remember that in Nouri al-Maliki's second term as the prime minister -- in 2010 to 2014 -- he never appointed a minister of defense or interior.  He had acting minister that he installed without parliamentary approval that never had full powers. So this is not a crisis.  They have a government.  There are a couple of ministers that they disagree on -- some are just resume problems as you alluded to, too many ties to the former regime, so they'll make substitutions there.  The real fights are for defense and interior.

First off, I'm so glad to hear Dougie say what he said regarding Nouri's second term.  Because in real time, we were the only ones saying it.  We stood alone in pointing out that the Constitution did nto recognize 'acting ministers' and that anyone Nouri put in place without Parliament was not in place because they had no real power and Nouri could replace them on a whim.  (Ministers are confirmed by Parliament.  Once confirmed, they either resign or Parliament votes them out.  They cannot be 'fired' by Nouri.)  This was a big deal and we documented why in real time.

Doug didn't tell the truth then so it's no surprise he's bungling it again.

Why does this matter?

Why did we spend so much time on this topic throughout Nouri's second term.

The Ministry of the Interior is over security forces such as the police.  The Ministry of Defense is over the military.

These are important posts at any point.  As we noted throughout Nouri's second term, they were posts that needed to be filled.  If they were not filled, Nouri was responsible for them and that meant he was responsible for all that followed.

We said Iraq was falling apart because it was.  You cannot persecute the people and expect no push back.  ISIS took hold in Nouri's second term because of his paranoia which led to constantly persecuting the people and because he had secret prisons and torture chambers.

If Iraq truly had a Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior at that time, there would have been two other voices offering input and shaping policy.  Instead, the only voices were the ones in Nouri's head.

Iraq's back to that period.  al-Mahdi can't seem to nominate a Minister of Defense or Interior.  And how are things going in the country?

Sunday, multiple bombings in Baghdad with at least six dead -- correction, at least seven.  Monday, more bombs followed.  Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) reports, "More bombs were reported in the Baghdad area, even though the Interior Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Saad Maan, claimed that no blasts occurred."

Is this really a time to leave the posts of Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior empty?

Dropping back to July 25, 2011:

Meanwhile Iraq's security ministries remain without leadership. The Ministry of the Interior, the Ministy of National Security and the Ministry of Defense should have had a minister named to each back in December. Nouri failed to do so. He has continued to fail at that basic -- and Constitutionally mandated -- task. Aswat al-Iraq reports on what may be an attempt to force Nouri's hand. Tareq al-Hashemi is Iraq's Sunni vice president. He is also a member of Iraqiya. And he is stating that if Iraqiya pushes him for Minister of Defense, he will accept the post. State of Law's Sami al-Askary is in a panic:

As regards to the position of Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki and his State of Law Coalition towards the said topic, Askary said that “through previous experiences, it is difficult to reach an understanding between Maliki and Hashimy for clear reasons,” adding: “I don’t think that this process would succeed.”
“The motive behind Hashimy’s nomination for the Defense Minister’s post is to put Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in an embarrassing position.” Askary stated.

Nouri's failed to address the security ministries and he's failed to address many things.

The fact that it's a constitutionally mandated duty should force al-Mahdi to act quickly.  If that's not enough for him, he might want to remember how Nouri as prime minister, Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior worked out: Mosul was seized by ISIS in the final months of Nouri's second term.

For his own image, you'd think al-Mahdi would move quickly to install others who can share the blame should the security situation get even worse.

Amnesty's Donatella Rovera notes al-Mahdi notes the current situation could have been predicted and, in fact, was . . . by al-Mahdi himself.

PM Abdul Mahdi knew ‘s problems, But his cabinet choices show he may not have the solutions. He wrote on Facebook 5 months ago that he didn’t want to be PM because the toxic political culture would make it impossible to govern. It seems he was right 

The empty posts aren't the only problem for the Cabinet.

There are rumours that four cabinet ministers within the new AAH government may lose their positions. Details on Al-Mada:  

And there's more.

In Iraq, MP from Fatah Coalition: some of PM Abdel-Mahdi's cabinet picks will be replaced due to their investigation by the Accountability & Justice Commission.

The Justice and Accountability Commission?  It was used in the past to control who could run for the Parliament and who couldn't.  Nouri, as prime minister, used it as his own political hit team.  The notion that this corrupt commission -- which has no right to exist today, they were supposed to close shop -- is returning

Turning to the topic of peace, Cindy Sheehan notes:


Women's March on the Pentagon
Recap and Regroup!

On Sunday, November 11th
WMOP is sponsoring a 
Community Conference Call
to Recap the 2018 events and to
Announce future actions.






4pm Pacific
5pm Mountain
6pm Central
7pm Eastern

(We will have a monthly Community Conference Call on the 2nd Sunday of every month)

And Black Alliance for Peace notes more actions in the US this coming weekend:

Catharsis on the Mall; A Vigil for Healing

Catharsis on the Mall will take place on the National Mall near the Washington Monument (15th St. and  Constitution Ave., NW) all weekend long. It will have art installations, live music and booths.

Veterans Occupy Washington

Veterans will be holding space at McPherson Square, 15th St. and I St., NW, from Friday night to Sunday  night and at the Veteran’s Administration, 810 Vermont Ave. (close to  McPherson Square). They will have a concert starting at 4:00 pm Saturday, an interfaith service at 8:00 am on Sunday and a rally at 1:00 pm Sunday. They will also hold a BBQ for homeless veterans outside the Veteran’s Administration Building on Sunday night. Stop by whenever you can and stay as long as you like.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Peace Congress: End U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad

Location: Capitol Hill  Presbyterian Church, 201 4th St., SE, Washington, DC, Fellowship Hall  (wheelchair accessible). Breakfast and lunch provided. 

*Please register below if you plan to attend and donate to support this if you are able. Suggested donation is $10 to cover food.*


9:00 am Registration

9:30  am Opening Plenary on challenges and opportunities for building a movement to end U.S. wars at home and abroad. Speakers include Ajamu Baraka of Black Alliance for Peace, Angela Bibens of Red Owl Law and Standing Rock, Bernadette Ellorin of BAYAN USA, Cheri Honkala of Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign, Eli Painted Crow, Turtle Women Rising, Joe Lombardo of United National Antiwar Coalition, Netfa  Freeman of the Institute for Policy Studies. Moderated by Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance.

11:00 am General Assembly on challenge and opportunities. Organizations are invited to share their campaigns.

12:30 pm Box lunch provided.

1:30 pm  General Assembly on areas for collaboration and next steps

5:00 pm Peace Congress adjourns

Sunday, November 11, 2018 March to Reclaim Armistice Day Schedule:

9:00 am – Gather. Location to be announced.

9:30  am – March begins. March route will include the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Women’s Memorial, World War II Memorial and it will arrive at the World War I Memorial at 11:am.  All are welcome, you do not have to be a Veteran or Military Family Member to attend and are  encouraged to walk behind the Vets. Respectfully, please remember, this  is a solemn march, while you do not have to remain silent, it is requested to hold the noise level down. Signage, Banners, and Flags are encouraged. To honor all victims of wars, civilians, and resistors. White poppy wreaths will be left at each site. Taps will be blown by fellow Veteran and Sapper, Watermelon Slim.

The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated: